While the Flyers were electrifying their fans with a do-or-die playoff victory over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, there was no joy across the street in Mudville.
Mighty Cole could not grip the baseball.
“Sometimes you have to battle the elements and the elements definitely got the best of me,” Cole Hamels said after he and the Phillies suffered a 6-1 loss to the New York Mets on a cold, rainy, miserable night at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
Hamels walked five batters and hit another in 4 2/3 innings. After the loss, he said he was embarrassed by the performance -- three times.
“Just the fact of not being able to locate pitches and not being able to throw strikes or apply a plan of attack to hitters,” Hamels said. “When you’re not able to execute it creates a serious issue and it did -- it led to a very poor performance and from my standpoint I’m truly embarrassed that I didn’t give anybody a chance. Balls weren’t even being put into play because I didn’t allow them to be put in play. That’s an embarrassment because I’m not allowing my teammates to get in the game.
“When you’re walking that many guys and you’re allowing runs to score, you don’t give your team a chance to win. And even for the fans that stayed, it’s pretty embarrassing for the type of game that I went out and pitched. It’s not the type of game I like to credit myself on when I go out there and work so diligently in between starts and to start a season.
“I threw 50-something balls; I don’t do that. I guess I can say I have now.”
The first pitch of the game was delayed one hour, 28 minutes. It was 48 degrees when Hamels threw the first pitch. It was 45 degrees by the middle innings. It rained most of the game. The announced crowd was 28,189. The actual in-house attendance was probably half that.
Hamels was able to navigate the first three innings and allow just one run. He lost it in the fourth and fifth innings. He walked four batters in an inning for the first time in his career in the fourth. One of the walks was to the opposing pitcher, Jonathon Niese, with the bases loaded.
The next inning, Hamels walked a fifth batter and hit another. He failed to get the third out in the inning even after manager Ryne Sandberg left him out there to try to retire the bottom third of the order.
Hamels couldn’t to it. He threw a whopping 68 pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. He finished the game with 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings; 51 of them were balls.
Hamels didn’t complain about the Phillies choosing to play the game in such bad weather. The team seemed hellbent on getting the game in because Wednesday's forecast is even worse and the club already had one day off this week (Monday) with another coming Thursday.
“It’s baseball," Hamels said. "You have to get your games in. There are going to be games that are wet and cold, 110-degree temperatures. You have to be able to play and master what you have out there and be able to execute. I wasn’t able to do so.”
The cold more than the rain was the root of Hamels’ problem.
“I wasn’t able to grip any of my pitches, not even a fastball,” he said. “To be able to grip a four-seam fastball and locate it, that’s first and foremost and I wasn’t able to do that, let alone try to move to another pitch. I wasn’t able to throw any of them.
“Not being able to build up enough sweat so I could get certain grips on the ball hurt. The ball definitely felt like a cue ball. Today might have been the day to use pine tar, but fortunately I don’t do that. It might have been the day to learn.
“It was just difficult to grip the baseball, but you have to be able to battle and I wasn’t able to do that.”
Niese pitched in identical conditions and was able to succeed. He logged seven innings and scattered four hits, one of which was a homer by Marlon Byrd. Niese walked just one and struck out five.
“Niese was able to deal with it and he got through it just fine," Hamels said. "A lot of credit goes to him for being able to do that. And there is embarrassment on my side for not being able to compete.”